'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Audiobooks
- Best Mystery Books of Fall 2018
- Best Mystery Books of 2017
- Best Mystery Books of 2016
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
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'ERA' Best Lists
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- Best Legal Mystery Books
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- Best Mystery Thriller Books
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- Best Whodunit Mystery Books
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- Best Mystery Thriller Books
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'AUDIENCE' Best Lists
- Best Mystery Books for Women
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The Thriller Genre
What is a Thriller?
The thriller is thus named because it provides the reader with thrills. Typically, however, the reader uses the thriller title to discuss a book that has significant danger to the hero, an engaging and powerful villain in the piece, and high stakes to the city, country, or world if the villain succeeds. The exact classification is a little fuzzy so books are sometimes defined as thrillers which may not fit this definition.
Thrillers are often lumped in with Suspense books, but if you want to break things down exactly, is a different genre. Both Thrillers, Suspense, and Mystery books often include elements each other, which is why they are often all tossed together under a single unified category of "Mystery/Thriller/Suspense' books.
- Level of Characterization
The characters can be given a back story, or they may just serve as a way to move the plot along..
- Level of Plot
The plot is one of the main drivers in the thriller, The characters must be a quest to help others by their actions.
- Level of Mystery
There may be a mystery involved, but it's not a requirement of the subgenre.
- Level of Suspense
Most definitely. A thriller need to have suspense, the feeling that something bad is going to happen. It helps activate the characters to solve the problem and save the world.
- Level of Thriller
It goes without saying.
- Level of Strangeness
There can definitely be strange elements in a thriller. New weapons, different technologies, anything that may threaten the world. And the villain should be larger than life.
- Level of Violence
Violence in a part of any thriller. The violence must be sufficient to make the stakes high for the hero and the people involved.
- Level of Action
It wouldn't be a thriller without action. Most thrillers have higher page counts, which in turn means more events must occur to keep things moving swiftly.
- Degree of Thriller, Thriller, Crime, or Mystery in the Thriller Subgenre
Obviously, these fall into the category of thriller most of all. Thriller need suspense to keep the reader turning those pages. The stakes must be high and the results of failing must be intolerable. While there may be mystery elements, as perhaps the main characters don't know who they are fighting against, a mystery is not required for a thriller.
Related MYSTERY Subgenres
Thriller isn't for you IF...
like shorter novels, you don't want to be turning the pages at 3am.
- 1 The 39 Steps
By John Buchan. A dead man and a dying clue send Richard Hannay off in search of the 39 steps.
- 2 The DaVinci Code
By Dan Brown. A conspiracy thriller regarding the Holy Grail and the wife of Jesus
- 3 The Bourne Identity
By Robert Ludlum. Jason Bourne was made into a killing machine and has to recover the story of who he was
- 4 The Hunt for Red October
By Tom Clancy. A Russian submarine is in US waters and everyone wants it.
- 5 The Manchurian Candidate
By Richard Condon. The presidential candidate may have been brainwashed by secret agents to do their bidding in office.
- 6 The Marathon Man
By William Goldman. The return of Nazis after the war is always a good thriller
- 7 The Dante Club
By Matthew Pearl. A series of murders look like they are related to Dante's circles of hell.
- 8 LA Confidential
By James Ellroy. Corruption and greed in post WWII Los Angeles
- 9 The Secret Agent
By Joseph Conrad. The agent has infiltrated a group planning on blowing up an observatory.
- 10 The Day of the Jackal
By Frederick Forsythe. An assassination attempt on a world leader drives this thriller.